Residents of the Commonwealth looking to pursue higher educational opportunities in the fields of food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences may be able to do so at little to no cost as part of the newest scholarship program hosted by Northern Marianas College’s Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services (NMC-CREES).
The NextGen Scholarship Program, funded by the US Department of Agriculture – Natural Institute of Food (USDA-NIFA) and Agriculture NextGen Workforce Initiative, is specifically tailored to focus on creating a regenerative workforce for African-American and insular communities. This initiative provides a unique opportunity for learners pursuing degrees in food science, agriculture, natural resource management, agritourism, and related disciplines.
Key features of the scholarship include financial and counseling support for eligible undergraduate and graduate degree programs, renewable scholarships for up to four years for bachelor's, three years for master's, and four years for doctorate degrees, with the potential for full or partial funding.
The program is open to current NMC students and the CNMI community, as long as the individual resides in the CNMI and is U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident. A minimum grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale is required to apply, with a 3.0 GPA necessary for renewal. Additionally, applicants must commit to returning to the CNMI after graduation for a specified period.
NextGen Program Manager Karim Johnson said that the initiative emphasizes the importance of human support, both locally and nationally, to ensure the success of scholarship recipients.
"This is a unique opportunity to skill up and regenerate the CNMI workforce in a set of industries currently recognized as vital to the well-being of CNMI, now and in the future,” Johnson said. Beyond financial resources, the program offers dedicated NextGen counseling support throughout the scholarship award period and provides access to summer academies, internships, and mentorship opportunities through USDA and Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences.
To apply, interested candidates are required to complete the NextGen Scholarship Application (https://forms.gle/6JpJuDZPkzX3qKLVA) and submit all supporting documents. The application process includes a thorough review by both internal and external review boards, with highly qualified applicants proceeding to interviews. Final decisions will be communicated to all candidates.
“This is a tremendous opportunity. We look forward to a large pool of well qualified applicants who are committed to enhancing our islands,” said Patricia Coleman, NMC-CREES Interim Dean.
The NextGen Scholarship Program signifies a crucial step towards nurturing the next generation of leaders in industries integral to the well-being and sustainable development of the CNMI. Aspiring students are encouraged to seize this unique opportunity and contribute to the future growth and prosperity of the CNMI.